KUALA LUMPUR, (Reuters) – Pirates attacked a coal ship 10 nautical miles off the coast of the eastern Malaysian island of Tioman on Monday and robbed the crew although they did not seize the vessel, state news agency Bernama reported on Friday.
“The pirates stole cash and handphones from the crew, mostly Indonesians, before vanishing without injuring anyone,” Bernama cited police official Johari Jahaya as telling them.
Johari said the ship was sailing from Singapore to Thailand when it was intercepted and boarded by the pirates who came in two speedboats at about 9 p.m. (1300 GMT) on Monday.
The crew said they had lost 16 million rupiah ($1,359) when they reported the incident to police on Thursday, he said.
Johari was quoted as saying by Bernama that this was the second robbery involving pirates in Tioman waters this year.
Unlike in war-torn Somalia where piracy in the Gulf of Aden has become a major issue threatening world trade, piracy in the waters around Malaysia is now rare.
The Strait of Malacca between peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra is among the world’s busiest shipping lanes, used by more than 70,000 ships in 2007, including vessels supplying about 80 percent of the nergy needs of Japan and China.
Piracy in the Strait became so serious that in 2005 the Joint War Committee of the Lloyd’s Market Association added the area to its list of war risk zones, sending premiums sharply higher.
Concerted efforts by Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore helped slash the number of attacks in subsequent years.